Large property tax increase may be on the table as part of school finance fix in Kansas

Homeowners and businesses in Kansas may soon be asked to pay significantly higher property taxes in the future as part of any state plan to pay for a court-mandated increase in K-12 education spending.

Rep. Steven Johnson, R-Assaria, who chairs the House Taxation Committee, said recently that he intended to make that part of the discussion in the coming weeks as lawmakers begin working in earnest to find ways to pay for what could be a $600 million increase in annual aid to public schools.

“The reason for property is, we had a meaningful change in income tax in 2017, a meaningful change in sales tax in 2015, and the one thing we did not discuss in committee last year was property tax,” Johnson said in a recent interview.

Last week, Johnson introduced a bill in the tax committee that would nearly double the mandatory statewide property tax levy that goes to public schools. It’s a proposal he said he is not necessarily endorsing, but one that he thinks lawmakers at least need to talk about as the discussion about a school funding fix moves forward.

(Read more: stories: Kansas government)